The Deemster who yesterday jailed killer taxi driver David Evans explained to the court that he had limited sentencing powers.
The taxi driver who killed Carolyn Buchan in March was sentenced to three years in prison for causing death by careless or inconsiderate driving and perverting the course of justice.
Deemster Cook said that, regarding sentencing. ‘we are restrained by guidelines and Tynwald’.
Evans, aged 66, formerly of Tynwald Street, Douglas, was sentenced by Deemster Graeme Cook at the Court of General Gaol on Wednesday afternoon.
In the early hours of Sunday, March 20, Mrs Buchan, who had been out for an evening at a friend’s house, was found dead in the road outside her house on Marathon Avenue in Douglas.
She was found by a neighbour at around 7.20am, who contacted the emergency services and identified her as Mrs Buchan.
Prosecutor Roger Kane said Mrs Buchan had been dropped off by Evans in his taxi before he reversed over her and left her with what were described as ‘catastrophic injuries’.
He then drove off and continued his shift as a taxi driver. He also awoke the next morning and went back to work.
Later that day, Evans gave a statement to police in which he claimed Mrs Buchan was intoxicated when he picked her up, said he had driven off without seeing Mrs Buchan reach her front door, but didn’t give any indication he had caused her death.
Mr Kane said that Evans later spoke to a colleague about three women who were arrested on suspicion of causing Mrs Buchan’s death, making comments that were reported to police which further implicated these innocent people.
On March 29, nine days after Mrs Buchan’s death, Evans was arrested and his vehicle seized. He continued to deny involvement in causing her death and eventually gave two further ‘no comment’ interviews.
After he was informed his car had blood and hair which matched Mrs Buchan’s, Evans read a prepared statement in which he said he had reversed his car after dropping her off and thought he had hit a pothole.
He said he then drove forward and realised that he had hit Mrs Buchan and drove off in a panic.
Mr Kane said that a collision report said the marks on the road were consistent with Mrs Buchan being pushed under the car and that blood had been found up to 370cm along the underneath of the 475cm taxi.
He added that a pathologist reported Mrs Buchan had ‘extensive’ internal and external injuries but that fortunately her death would have likely been ‘fairly quick’. Mr Kane said that even with urgent medical treatment, it is not believed that Mrs Buchan would have survived such injuries.
Mr Kane then read from a victim impact statement from Mrs Buchan’s granddaughter who said she was ‘still struggling to comprehend’ what had happened to her.
She added that the events around Mrs Buchan’s death will ‘live with my family forever’ and that Evans had ‘left out grandmother to die alone on a dark street’.
Mrs Buchan’s granddaughter, whose grief had been compounded by her living in the vicinity of Marathon Avenue with her young family, including Mrs Buchan’s great-grandson, said she now had to drive a different way out of her home to avoid using that road and that could see her grandmother’s house remaining dark where previously she would have the curtains drawn and lights on.
A second impact statement, read by Mrs Buchan’s daughter Jane Ashworth in the court, said ‘my world fell apart’, when her sister rang her to inform her of her mother’s death.
She said that the trauma of this was compounded by speculation on social media and the seven weeks her family had to wait to lay her mother to rest.
Mrs Ashworth said that her mental health had suffered since her mother’s death to the point where she was unable to work and struggled to find the motivation to get out of bed or face the world.
She told the court, while staring at Evans, ‘I miss my mum terribly’ and added that ‘no sentence will ever, in my opinion, justify his actions’.
Defence advocate Deborah Myerscough said Evans wanted to make an offer to apologise in person to Mrs Buchan’s family if they ever felt able to meet him face to face.
Mrs Myerscough said that no sentence will reflect what happened to Mrs Buchan or her family.
She said: ‘We can’t turn back the clock, he has done what he has done.’
She added: ‘He understands he hasn’t just affected Mrs Buchan’s family but members of his own family…who cannot understand what has happened.’
The advocate added that Evans said what had done was ‘eating away at his gut’ and that ‘every day he has to live with what he has done’.
In sentencing Evans, Deemster Cook said: ‘You are finally showing some remorse, though I wonder if that remorse is because of the situation you find yourself in or for your actions in March of this year.’
Deemster Cook said it was clear from hearing from her family that Mrs Buchan was ‘a delightful lady’.
He added: ‘Any human being with any decency would have stopped their vehicle, got out and seen to the lady who lay dying.’
Deemster Cook then added that it was a ‘sad reality’ that Mrs Buchan likely lay dead in the dark road for several hours before being discovered and told Evans that ‘nobody should die that way, that is down to you’.
He later told him that Evans was ‘more interested in self-preservation’ than he was for Mrs Buchan and said: ‘As far as I am concerned, your actions are deplorable.’
For the charges of causing death by careless or inconsiderate driving and perverting the course of justice, Deemster Cook sentenced Evans to three years in prison.
For the two offences of failure to stop and failure to report an accident, for which Deemster Cook had to briefly sit as a Deputy High-Bailiff, to three months for each offence, to run concurrently with the more serious offences.
Evans has also been banned from driving for 10 years and, if he chooses to drive again, would be required to take the extended driving test.
Speaking after Evans had left the courtroom, Deemster Cook thanked Mrs Buchan’s family for their statements and offered his condolences for their loss.
Addressing the length of the sentence imposed on Evans he told them ‘we are restrained by guidelines and Tynwald’ before saying he hoped that the sentencing of Evans would help them to move on.